Russian dictator Vladimir Putin told parliament on Wednesday that tensions escalate between the United States and Russia it will be President Donald Trump who does the escalating first as both countries move closer towards an arms race and, perhaps, war.
Earlier this year, Trump withdrew the United States from the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) in a statement accusing Russia of developing short and intermediate range missiles in violation of the treaty.
“The United States has fully adhered to the INF Treaty for more than 30 years, but we will not remain constrained by its terms while Russia misrepresents its actions,” Trump said. “We cannot be the only country in the world unilaterally bound by this treaty, or any other.”
Rather than work within the treaty to bring Russia to heel, Trump did exactly what Putin wanted by withdrawing from it. Putin responded by doing the same and announced the development of new weapons systems, no longer needing to spend resources hiding his activities.
“The American partners have declared that they suspend their participation in the deal, we suspend it as well,” Putin declared. “We have repeatedly, during a number of years, and constantly raised a question about substantiative talks on the disarmament issue. We see that in the past few years the partners have not supported our initiatives.”
The treaty prevented both sides from stationing land-based missiles near each other, particularly in Europe. And Putin warned Trump that if he moves to place such missiles in Europe, Russia will target those European nations and the United States in retaliation.
“It’s their right to think how they want,” Putin said. “But can they count? I’m sure they can. Let them count the speed and the range of the weapons systems we are developing.”
“Russia will be forced to create and deploy types of weapons which can be used not only in respect of those territories from which the direct threat to us originates, but also in respect of those territories where the centers of decision-making are located,” he continued. “We know how to do this and we will implement these plans immediately, as soon as the corresponding threats to us become a reality.”
As we all know, Trump is easily baited and is desperate to show how “tough” he is. Assuming he isn’t working for Putin, Trump may very well dare Putin to target the United States by irrationally placing missiles in Europe to up the ante. And if he is working for Russia as is suspected by national security experts and the FBI, putting missiles in Europe may be exactly what Putin wants Trump to do so it appears the United States made the first move, which would legitimize Russia’s response.
Clearly, Trump made an error by pulling out of the Reagan-era treaty. Before taking the ultimate step by withdrawing from it, Trump should have explored ways to bring Russia in line within the framework of the document. Instead, he reacted irrationally as usual and now there is no remedy to handle what Russia is now doing openly. Now we all have to worry about a potential arms race that we can’t afford and a potential war that could end civilization as we know it.
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